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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders fuels fire during Phoenix rally

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves after speaking at a campaign rally at the Akron Civic Theatre, Monday, March 14, 2016, in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

PHOENIX — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders fueled the fire and felt the “Bern” during a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday.

Sanders energetically took the stage at the Phoenix Convention Center, despite losing to frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois primaries.

During his nearly hour-long speech, Sanders called for the raise of minimum wage to $15 per hour, advocated for equality between men’s and women’s pay and directly criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for insulting Mexicans, Muslims and women.

“What this campaign is about is thinking outside the status quo,” he said. “You don’t have to accept the status quo, we can do better. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t think big!”

Sanders ended his speech with a rally cry for Arizona voters to come out and vote after seeing losses in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois on Tuesday.

As of 9:30 p.m. Arizona time, the Missouri race was too close to call.

The Vermont senator is expected to shift most of his campaign focus to the Valley of the Sun, just one week ahead of the Arizona Preferential Preference election on March 22.

Crowds gathered hours before Sanders was expected to land in Phoenix, anxiously awaiting to see the beloved senator even though he was not planned to speak until 6 p.m. A Sanders spokeswoman said Tuesday’s crowd totaled upwards of 7,500 people.

This isn’t the candidate’s first trip to the Valley: Sanders paid a visit to the Phoenix area earlier this year and told a crowd at the same venue that the nation needs comprehensive immigration reform.

“Our job is not to divide. Our job is to bring people together,” Sanders said at the time. “When we talk about bringing one nation together, there are 11 million people in the shadows. They are afraid to be deported.”

The Sanders family has had a large presence in Arizona in the past week: On Monday, Sanders’ wife Jane visited Tent City to draw attention to its inhumane conditions and speak with victims of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s raids.

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